Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Why you shouldnt open your mouth on a water slide.....

A few years ago, a friend and I took our children to Crete for our Summer Holiday. Sometime during the first week, she breathlessly appeared at my apartment door one early evening to tell me that she and her son had found a water park at the bottom of the hill, and then asked me if my son and I wanted to go there with them the following day. Mark One Offspring, who was exiting the shower at that precise moment, excitedly said "YES" before I could air any of my (many) misgivings. Needless to say the following morning I found myself in an inordinately long queue (just to get into the park I might add) with two over excited children, and one over excited friend animatedly extoling the virtues of water slides.

Finally, after about an hour and a half of queueing in weather that would make a demon collapse with heat exhaustion, we finally got into the park and made our way to the bathrooms to change into our swimming costumes. Thus ensued a half an hour battle to the death with my most ferocious "IF you can get into me I will hoist up your boobs and hold in your stomach" swimsuit, (which I only managed to get into by beating it to death with a stick on the bathroom floor first), so by the time I made it to the water slide that my friend had been telling us about over dinner all the previous evening, my friend and both of our children had already been down this thing several times.

Now (and whilst I am not complaining), one of the problems of having broken your back and then being able to walk again afterwards, is that you are never quite crippled enough for it to instantly just negate you from going on these things in the first place, there is always that moment of "will she/wont she?" And I am always very conscious of other people thinking that I am just using my back pain as an excuse to not go on these things because I am afraid, (which of course is not what I am doing.) So I reluctantly agreed to go on the slide that my friend and our children were waxing lyrical about.

The first indication I got that this maybe was not going to be something that I would enjoy, was when they took me to the path that led to the slide and I saw the sign above the path that said "The Vortex". My instant thought was: "This.Is.Not.Going.To.End.Well". But as I have already said, I didnt want to lose face by letting my friend and our children know that I was scared, so I fixed a (somewhat manic) smile into place and started to walk up the path, with them skipping on ahead of me, but unfortunately not so far ahead that I could just turn and flee, making my excuses later. When we got near to the ladder I noticed that they had started to hang back a little, but before I could work out why, I found myself standing at the bottom of the ladder, and I got the first of what were to be several bad frights over the next 10 minutes. The ladder went vertically up!! No incline, just a vertical ladder, which I could just about see the top of. I turned to them and telling the boys to stick thier fingers in thier ears and hum, I told my friend exactly what I thought of the whole thing, but I had said I was going to do it and to back out then would have been to look like a coward to my son, so I started to climb.

About half way up my footing slipped and the ladder was so steep that for a moment I was left hanging vertically downwards, but I pressed on never the less, reaching the top after several minutes of language that would have made a sailor blush, and the loss of a couple of pints of sweat. I stood at the top of the ladder and momentarily was quite proud of myself for accomplishing a climb that I felt necessitated the help of Sherpa Tensing, BUT, then I looked down the slide, and immediately changed my mind about not wanting to lose face. It was, as you might suspect, a vertical drop with a slight upturned "lip" at the bottom, which I heavily suspect is not so much to stop you from hitting the water at "warp speed" as it is to fling you into the air at the bottom, for everyone elses amusement and scoring opportunities. I decided that discretion is indeed the better part of valour, and that I would simply climb back down the ladder again, but when I looked behind me I discovered something alarming. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, the ladder was now full from top to bottom with 16-17 years olds, all looking at me as if to say "listen Grandma, there is not a chance in hell that you are going to be able to get that Butt past us, so squeeze your cellulite onto the slide and try not to get stuck halfway down, because if you do that is half an hour of us being stuck on this ladder whilst they attempt to lever you out with poles and a vat of grease." I therefore had no choice but to slide. I consoled myself (although not very much) with the knowledge that it was such a steep incline that it would take me about a nanosecond to reach the bottom, which is precisely how long it took, BUT about a third of the way down something happened to time and it became the longest nanosecond of my life, which (unfortunately) gave me the time to open my mouth and let out a scream so loud that it frightened birds out of trees on the other side of the island. Finally I simultaneously took off at the bottom (thanks to the little lip) AND hit the water at Warp Speed, splashing sunbathers 3 pools away.

Eventually I surfaced and managed to drag myself to the side of the pool, and executed a not very graceful departure from the water, flipping onto my back on the side of the pool. After several minutes of trying to slow down the coronary that I had started halfway down the slide, I stood up to find myself next to a little souvenir stall, which you dont see until you get to the bottom of the slide. This is when I discovered that, much like they do at the ordinary theme parks, they very 'kindly' take a photo of you halfway down. Now, I have to say that at this point you do stand there and think "After everything I have just put myself through, I am bloody well going to take home a permanent reminder of my bravery, other than the minor heart attack I have just had", so you stand there and wait for your photo. While you are waiting you look at the other photos that they have hanging up (thier best examples) and you look at all of the 16/17 year olds (and there is your clue) in the pictures, and they look ok. Some of them even look as though they might actually be screaming as well, so you think "thats ok - they look alright, I can handle that, I wont mind the photo if it looks like these." Then, your photo comes off the printer. The first indication you get of anything that has gone awry is Stavros, the guy behind the counter, who immediately disappears downwards, and you think to yourself "where the hell did he go?" Then you hear this weird strangling noise coming from the floor behind the stall, and there he is, rolling around the floor, wetting himself with laughter and holding your photo aloft so that everyone can see it. So you whip it off him immediately, saying "GIVE Me That, Bloody Idiot! It cant be as bad as all tha,a,a......OH MY GOD!" You then quickly press the photo to your chest, and furtively glance around to make sure that nobody else has seen it. It is at this point that you think to yourself "I am just being silly now, I cant possibly have seen what I think I have just seen as there are forces of gravity at play here and THAT just isnt physically possible, so calm down, deep breath, have another look...." Very slowly you peel the photo away from your chest, look down and....."WHAT THE??!!" And then...."How the hell did THAT get THERE??!!" Because there is one VERY important thing you forget when you are at the top of the ladder, looking down the precipice (which I suspect is largely due to fear), and that is that it IS such a steep incline, so you and your "no longer a teenager" face are therefore subject to all the G-Forces that they normally put the trainee astronauts through. If you then go and open your mouth as well, the resulting photo is....well.... I ended up with my top lip between my eyebrows somewhere, and the rest of my face just looked a bit like a Guppy in a train accident! Take some advice - if, for whatever reason, you find yourself on holiday and having to go one one of these things, take a small strap of leather, or a small stick up there with you to bite down on, beacuse trust me, even biting down on a stick is NEVER going to look as bad as not biting down on the stick looks!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Poem "Your Voice is Sonic Alchemy": For Ville Valo with deep gratitude.

Just a quick note before I begin. Even though he will obviously never even see this, I have written this simply as a way of expressing my gratitude for what Ville Valo's songs have done, and continue to do for me and the control of my pain, (please see my previous post "HIM, what a welcome surprise"): Contrary to Sarahs joking, I am NOT in love with the man lol, (she knows as well as I do that if anything that would be her, rofl!) Nobody who has never met him could ever actually be in love with him, and especially not someone who resolutely refuses to find out any information about Ville or the Guys other than the wonderful songs they produce. If I have "fallen in love" with anything it is with some of the most beautiful, melancholy poetry I have ever heard. Also, in this poem when I speak of his "voice", I dont mean his physical voice, I mean his lyrics, his music, what he uses to communicate with the world - his "Voice".

"Your Voice is Sonic Alchemy".

Like the blood red velvet bloom
Your voice opens and unfurls,
Until it completely fills the room
And around me it twists and curls.

It lifts me up and away
From this wretched, empty place,
And manages to light the way
Until the right direction I face.

It takes me away from my pain
And puts me somewhere clean,
Then refreshes my soul like Summer Rain
Until I cant remember where I've been.

It balances and heals me
And calms my tortured soul,
Using your Sonic Alchemy
Your voice returns me to something whole.

It helps me to survive the endless night
And gives me a place to hide,
Everything, for a while, seems alright
And above the storms of life I can ride.

It gives me hope for the future
And relieves my loneliness,
Like a magical emotional suture
A bandage to my wounds it will press.

Then it returns me from whence I came
Refreshed and renewed,
Ready to start it all again
Returning the next time I come unglued.

I cannot thank you enough
For the things you have given me,
When the tides of life become too rough
There "Your Voice" will be.

For Ville - with more gratitude than I will ever be able to express.

Copyright by Sami-Jane Harris. 2010. All rights reserved

"HIM" - now that was a welcome surprise!

Why is it,that when you find a group or recording artist that changes your life in a positive way, at least one of your friends will insist on telling you as much "personal" information about them as they possibly can, even if you REALLY dont want to know ANY of it? This happened to me a little while ago and it bugged the hell out of me.

Thus I was introduced to the Finnish band HIM, and got a BIG shock:

A little while ago my friend Sarah came to me and said - "you like the 69 eyes right?" The reply was "yes - so?" She said - "well try this group on for size then", and I was introduced to the Finnish band "HIM". I had been vaguely aware of them flitting around the british media for a few years, but I couldn't remember any specifics about them at all and had not really heard any of their material, so when Sarah handed me copies of "Love Metal", "Dark Light" and "Venus Doom" that she had done for me, I have to admit that although I was intrigued to listen to what was for me a "new" band, I still  put them to one side for a couple of days while I was busy with other things. But one dark and depressing day I saw the 3 cd's lurking by the side of my P.C and thought "ok - I dont have anything else to do for half an hour, so I'll give them a bit of a listen". More than a few hours later, when I had played each album through at least twice, one after the other on the trot, I slowly removed my headphones in a bit of a state of shock and awe. Now, before you go thinking that I am one of those bonkers people who think they have fallen in love with a rock star, or at least who they think that rock star is, heres the thing; I am in my thirties, the mother of a teenage boy, and sensible enough to know that what the teenage girlies have actually fallen in love with is the idea of that rock star - based on what is lacking in thier own lives at that moment, - so I think it is safe to say that I am well past the screaming and throwing my underclothing on stage...well, stage (apologies to Blackie Lawless here - I was very drunk, it was the only time in my life I have ever done anything like that, and I REALLY didnt mean to hit you in the face with my bra in '92). Anyway, I started to feel a bit giddy, because never in my life have I ever come across a group, or a single recording artist for that matter, that has so accurately managed to describe the range of emotions I go through in an average day, and also to do this so consistently with every single song on not only the three albums that I listened to that day, but also the rest of their albums that I have bought since. The only one I dont yet have is "Digital Versatile Doom - Live at the Orpheum Theatre" and I am very much looking forward to getting that one day when I maybe am courageous enough to find out what the Guys look like. Sarah tells me that there is a dvd of a live performance of the album included, so for reasons I will explain in a moment I can't buy it just yet. I wish I could properly describe how I felt when I first heard those initial 3 albums; excited, in stunned awe of the beautifully poetic lyrics, relieved that someone else felt the same way I do and may be as odd as I am in this world for being so melancholy, when it sometimes seems like everyone else are these 'happy shiny' people.  I was more than a little bit ashamed and annoyed at myself for putting the albums to one side and not listening to them straight away.

Not wanting to know any "personal information" about HIM and why:

To go back to what I was mentioning at the beginning of this post - I called Sarah straight away to thank her for copying the albums for me, and to talk to her about what I had discovered, when she immediately tried to launch into what I suspect would have been a bloody long description of everything she had found out about the group, after many hours of searching for them on the internet at her ex mother in law's, (she later admitted that this is what she was attempting to do before I stopped her). I practically yelled at her down the phone "STOP!!" Here followed a bit of a stunned silence and then a very tentative "why??" I tried my best to explain it to her in terms of the pain that I go through everyday due to my back injury; I asked her to imagine that she was sitting at home on her sofa with her husband, that something traumatic had happened to her during the day and they were talking about it. I asked her to imagine that all she wanted to do, all she needed to do in that moment was form that connection with him, but there was someone else in the room, sitting nearby in the armchair, talking insessantly in the background and they would not stop. I asked her to imagine how that would feel, how much of an intrusion it would be. Luckily she got it immediately, let me explain: She already knew that I was involved in an accident 10 years ago when my son was a toddler. Not a car accident - for environmental reasons I refuse to learn to drive, and anyway - I learned a long time ago that nothing in my life is that prosaic. I was in an accident on a fairground ride which resulted in my back being broken. To cut a VERY long story short, I was misdiagnosed by my GP, I was at that time married to a man who, putting it politely refused utterly to do anything to help whatsoever, so it was 2 and a half months before they discovered what I had actually done and then operated on me. During the operation (which was the first one I had ever had) they discovered in a somewhat alarming way that I have a pretty serious allergy to general anaesthetic (I stopped breathing and then my heart stopped - twice) so they had to wake me up quickly without being able to repair all of the damage. They had repaired enough that I could walk again, and that I had normal function below the waist (ahem), but unfortunately it left me with a condition called "Chronic Peripheral Nerve Pain". This normally means pain in the arms and legs - but in my case (like I said - I have to be different) my pain is sometimes in my right leg and mostly in my back. There is a background pain that is present 24/7 - but is totally manageable, and then at different times throughout the day there are "layers" of pain on top of that, which depend on lots of different things - what I have done that day, what I havent done that day (innactivity can be just as bad) and lots of other things besides. It can get so bad on occasion that I throw up and I go into a kind of "pain state" where my mind seems to shut down a little bit, so I dont remember what has happened to me or what I have done - I have had to rely on friends to tell me about all the nasty things I seem to go through when I am in this state. Apparently I lay on the floor making primeval "noises" (they couldnt think of any other way to describe it), and although my eyes are open, I dont seem to be able to see anything and the only things that I seem to be able to hear are the songs that I use to help me deal with my pain, so the only thing my friends can do to help me, bless them, is make sure the earphones of my MP3 player stay in my ears, (I have usually already turned on the songs that I know work, which I have saved in a special playlist) and hope that it is over quickly. So managing my pain is a big deal for me and as I have said one of the ways I do this is with music. Suddenly I seemed to have found a group who's music worked almost instantly and better than any other music ever had before.

Spiritual Enlightenment:

A few years ago - continuing on my quest for spiritual learning and better knowledge of myself and why I might be here, I found myself joining a "spiritualist" organisation for a while, (more on that in a later blog). One of the many things that they taught there was healing - either other people or yourself, so I decided that to attend both courses might be an interesting thing to do. (When traditional medicine cant help you anymore - it is often a pro-active and reassuring exercise to seek out whatever means there are available to help yourself, and after so long in pain and facing the prospect of many more years of the same, there really isn't a stone that you will leave unturned.) Whilst I was more than slightly sceptical in the beginning, I have to admit that both courses taught me some invaluable lessons and techniques, and in terms of the "self healing" course - the most invaluable techniques I learned were visualisation and meditation. Music (for me) is key to this. It isnt the same for everybody - different strokes for different folks and all that, but music is what works for me and I have got to the stage now where there are certain songs which not only help me get to a meditative state - but which also seem to help to heal me when I am there. HIM's songs, and particularly "Join Me (In Death)" are most of them."Join Me" is of my favourite songs ever anyway, as it reminds me of my grandparents, who had the greatest love story I have ever heard - greater than even Romeo and Juliet's. I know I am biased as they are my grandparents - but thier story is one of love and devotion such as is rarely found now in this disgraceful world of ours, and is truly awe inspiring. But "Join Me" is more than that to me - it is also the main song I use now to heal myself when my pain is at its worst.

Ancestral Memory?:

From the first time I heard HIM's songs I found that somehow, there was something familiar and safe about Ville Valo's voice and I dont really have much of an idea why this should be. I have never met the man - neither am I ever likely to, but his voice, and his beautiful dark poetry are both comforting and warm in my cold world of pain. Sarah and I were discussing this a while ago and the only thing that she could think of was that it might be because my family are from the Hebrides, (bear with me), which is to this day still a primarily Scandanavian existence. Most of the families on the Hebrides can still trace thier heritage back to somewhere in Scandanavia, (my family certainly can), and the accent, place names and attitudes there reflects this. Also there is a beautiful vein of melancholy that runs through everything in life on the Hebrides - from the music you play or listen to, the songs that are sung, the art you create, to the poetry you write, even somehow to the food you eat and the air you breathe. So Sarah suggested that maybe some "ancestral memory" is being thrown up when I listen to Ville's voice, and his lyrics and they somehow manage to break through the barriers of time and pain, reassuring me, and safely bringing me out of my almost catatonic pain state until I am a whole and a (relatively) sane person again. Whilst I am not entirely convinced by this explanation, in the absence of a better one, two words keep springing to mind: "Why Not?"

Copyright by Sami-Jane Harris. 2010. All rights reserved

Sunday, 23 August 2009

"I dont mind being lonely - what I do mind is not being loved" (Part One), and, "The Supermarket - 3am"

The above is a lyric, from a song called "Really want to know you" written by Gary Wright. He was the guy who wrote "DreamWeaver" of "Wayne's World" fame. I have to admit that I am not over -keen on the song itself, but that line (which is one of the first lines in the song) really caught me. It is (almost) exactly how I feel and have felt for a long time now. The honest truth is that I miss being in a loving relationship so very much, but how the hell am I supposed to find "The One" to love?

Ok, here are the problems as I see them:

  • I am the age I am now (i.e. old enough to not want to admit to it freely), which is a terrible thing to have to admit really. I am not ancient, I am not even approaching middle age, but I am at that age where men start to question whether or not I am even a little too old to be considered in the love lottery. What an awful thing when you think about it; I love being the age I am now, I have so much more confidence than I have ever had before, my son is a (young) teenager and spends a lot more time with his father now (we have been divorced for 5 years now and I have been alone now for pretty much all that time - explanation later), my son spending more time with his father means that I now have much more free time than ever before, and as I am totally self suffient financially (I refused maintenance payments from my ex for my son), this means that I also have much more money to use during my free time than I have had in all my life. I have more energy now (as I am not running around and picking up after my son so much), I am finding that it is easier to "create" now - whether it is a piece of art, an item of clothing (a skill which was added to my repertoire a little while ago), a piece of poetry, a hand-made card for a loved one etc etc, and I am finding that I am a lot more "mellow" than I was when I was younger. I have friends who actually envy teenagers and people in their early twenties, and I have no real idea why! I wouldnt be a teenager again for all the money in the world - yes, seriously! It's not that I dont still get "angsty" about things - I certainly do, but I have more experience and wisdom now to be able to deal with all the bullshit in the world than I did when I was younger, and believe me I had a hell of a time dealing with what I saw in the world when I was even younger than a teenager, I still do sometimes, hence the poetry, but at least now I have more "tools" than I had before to be able to deal with it all.
  • Ok, second point, as already mentioned - I am a "package deal". I have a child, which seems to put a lot of men off, and I am not daft - I can understand that they do not want to have to deal with babies and toddlers and all the nappies and snotty noses that accompany them. But my son is a teenager, and not a stroppy one either. Actually (and I know I am bragging here - but I have brought my son up pretty much single handed, even when I was married, so I now feel that I have the right to brag just a little), my son is a really good kid. Dont get me wrong - he certainly has his moments when he wants to - but when you think about it that is what teenagers are supposed to do; they are supposed to push the boundaries that you lay down for them, they are supposed to question the rules that you have given them, otherwise - how do they learn to become responsible adults, unless they have made mistakes and have learned from them? I have to say that I would worry more if my son didnt question my authority from time to time. Oh dont get me wrong - there are definitely major consequences in store for him when he does try to get one over on me, but that is the point - as I am consistent with them, he knows that there is a price to be paid for "out of place" rebellion, so whenever he has to pay that price (whatever it is) I have to be honest and say that he does take it on the chin, so to speak, and he always apologises and learns his lesson. Its just that the next time he pushes, and questions it is always over something different, lol! Anyway, back to the point: The point is that my son is responsible and a lot older than a toddler - he is actually fun to have around most of the time instead of things being the other way around, so why would a guy be put off by having a good teenager around the house for some of the time? I would appreciate any answers to this one!
  • As I have already mentioned in a previous blog, I dont drink anymore, and I do smoke, so I dont really go out anymore either, (please read my previous blog for a full explanation of this one, if you havent already done so.)
  • I work from home - so it is not possible for me to meet anyone in the workplace, unless of course it happens to be the guy who reads my gas meter (not on your life) or the washing machine repair man (lovely guy, and isnt married, but, a; is over 60, and b; in the grand tradition of repair men, is also more than a little bit odd, so - absolutely, no!)
  • I have a son who has Melatonin Deficiency Syndrome, which is a sleep condition, and this means that we often keep somewhat odd hours. For instance, my son (and therefore also myself) will fairly often be asleep during the day and awake of a night, waking at somewhere near 11am-1pm and going to sleep at around 5-6am the following morning. It is fairly imperative therefore that I find someone who also keeps odd hours at least sometimes, otherwise we would never see each other!
  • Keeping such unusual hours, on occasion, can have some fascinating, well, "side effects", and one of these is having to do the grocery shopping at around 3am. Now at that hour there are barely any people in the store, except for the staff, and once you have navigated your way around the huge cages that the staff use to restock the store overnight, you can do your shopping in less than half the time that it takes during the day. BUT there are some, well lets just say, interesting people in the store at 3am! A couple of my friends hit on the bright "idea" of actually being able to meet a suitable man in the supermarket, and they were both right when they said that if he is in there at that time in the am, this might mean that he also keeps the kind of hours that my son and I do. I listened to them quietly, and then I made (half shouted) the following point: "Have you SEEN the guys in the supermarket at 3am?!!!" I should point out here that neither of them have actually been in the supermarket at that time in the morning, so I took the opportunity to ah, explain (somewhat animatedly) the following points to them: Doing your shopping at that time in the morning can be a bit like a horror movie, actually it can be exactly like a horror movie; there you are, pushing your trolley down one of the aisles, when all of a sudden, "whhssht" - something HUGE and BLACK, flits across the end of the aisle. You stand there for a moment, rooted to the spot, thinking "What was THAT??!!" "Did I just see that??" "Did anyone else see that??" "WHAT the HELL was THAT??!!" So you push your trolley very slowly to the end of the aisle (picking up things as you go of course - woman - practical), then when you get to the end you peer around the corner veeerrry carefully, when all of a sudden,....BLAM... right infront of you,.... there is this....thing, this hair mountain, unfortunately devoid of personal hygeine, and a quick check in his basket usually confirms the following: He is carrying a copy of the "Se7en" dvd, and /or a copy of "Silence of the Lambs", about 8 pairs of ladies panties, and 20 tins of chilli, and then he wants to know if you have seen Duck Tape and cable ties on the way round." I went on to explain to my friends that if ANY of that suggested "Long Term Relationship" to them, they probably deserved to be tied up and strangled by a hairy biker behemoth, prancing around the room in lacy french cami-knickers.
  • At one point there seemed to be a solution to the "finding a suitable man and quick" problem, which was to ask my friends (who do go out regularly,) to find a man for me. But then I actually thought about it; I love my friends, I really do, BUT the "bare bones" truth of the matter is that all but one of us (the one who has never been married) are DIVORCED. Some of us (not me) are even divorcing our second spouse(s), and one of us is stuck in a loveless marriage in a desperate effort to hang onto the kids. SO I have come to the conclusion that bad taste in men is one thing, but second hand bad taste in men is an entirely different can of worms that I definitely DONT want to open!
Copyright by Sami-Jane Harris. 2010. All rights reserved

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Life, Fags, and being a Hermit

FAGS (Seems as good a place as any to start this thing):

I have been smoking so many fags recently that I've even worried myself, (oops, sorry - for any Americans that are reading this "Smoking a Fag" means having a cigarette, NOT setting fire to a homosexual.) I stopped smoking for two whole months earlier this year and I was sooo proud of myself, given that I am such a chain smoker. But - I went on holiday to see my friends in Scotland, had some stress, and thought to myself "one wont hurt". I really should have known myself better than that. Now I am probably up to a pack and a half a day - which ok, is a big improvement on what I used to smoke, but still it isnt good really. I am just dreading the thought of having to go through the drama of having to start giving up again, it is so painful and I always feel like I am losing a friend (albeit a friend that will give me cancer and kill me given the chance: How stupid am I?) Once I am a couple of weeks into giving up it gets much better and a little easier, then it just continues to get easier, but the thought of the first couple of weeks is really putting me off at the moment.


Also maybe now is not the right time to be giving up anyway; I am so lonely at the moment that it has actually started to physically hurt - I get a pain in the palms of my hands when I think about how lonely and cut off from everybody I seem to be now. Somehow I have become a real hermit, I rarely leave the house as I have been diagnosed with PMLE, an allergy to sunlight (although the plus side of that is my skin is lovely and pale), and when I do venture out to meet my friends for a session of catching up at our local pub/club....well I dont really know how to explain this (and sound sane) so I am just going to go for it and hope for the best:

Usually my friends pick the pub/club, we arrive, get our drinks (I am the "boring one" as I dont drink) and find a table to sit at. Then we start to catch up with each others news (I dont usually have very much news to impart, being the hermit that I am, but I like to listen to what everyone else has been doing.) "Catching Up" usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half, and then everyone wants to hit the dancefloor, me included, but the thing is, for reasons that I will probably explain later, I cant dance all night anymore the way my friends can, so after a little while I head back to the table on my own,

Now, for the same reason that I cant dance all night long, I also cant drink alcohol (ahem....anymore), but I do smoke - a lot, and nowhere in Europe now can you smoke in a public building. So there I am, sitting at the table, with my trusty orange juice in hand (I miss beer so much), watching my friends having a good time (which I genuinely love to see), and I am either staring at the four walls, or fending off the slurred advances of the local village idiot, who upon spying a woman on her own obviously thinks this means that he is in with a chance (get a clue Jack ), I am now in desperate need of a fag (cigarette), and I am usually having to listen to music that, well, let me explain: My friends politely call my musical tastes "eclectic", I truly subscribe to the theory that there are only two types of music; Good and Bad. I will listen to anything from Black Sabbath to Beethoven and everything in-between, BUT there are some types of "music" out there that will send me insane in about 5 seconds and garage/house/club music are just a few of them, and we are in a guess what the DJ is playing? I have to admit that my musical preference is usally Goth Metal, Metal, Rock, Jamaican music etc (for the uninitiated Bob Marley, whilst wonderful, is NOT the be all and end all of Jamaican music - try listening to John Holt (1000 volts of Holt is my "go to" album first thing in the morning, or last thing at night come to that), Toots and the Maytals, Daddy U-Roy, Capelton and so many others, and you will see that there is so much more to Jamaican music than "One Love" or "Three Little Birds".

Anyway - I have wandered off the point: After about half an hour of fending off the idiot, counting the cracks in the plasterwork on the walls and being forced to listen to the brain battering musical offerings of the "desperate to be cool" DJ, with his curly "mullett" hair and wearing his wonderful, brightly coloured, instantly flammable shellsuit (bleurrgh). I find myself running (screaming) outside to accompany the drug dealers and prostitutes (some of whom are very nice people by the way) on the pavement for a fag. Now, as I have already said, I smoke - a lot, and the goings on in the club are not exactly enticing, so I am out there for a looooong time, and I live in the UK, and the UK is cold and damp, so by the time I get back to the table I am: a) developing Bronchitis (I have Asthma) and b) Not in a very good mood. To top it all - I am now back sitting at the table, minus alcohol which would make getting through the night so much easier, and once again fending off the idiot and being sent insane by DJ. Fairly soon after that I begin to think "I could be at home right now, in my comfy pyjamas, on my comfy sofa, with my cup of excellent coffee by my side (not the crap they serve up to you in the club), reading my book and listening to music that is not going to drive me right up to the doors of the insane asylum and wave at me as I walk inside."

All joking and jollyness aside now, the problem is that although I love being with my friends and I love watching them getting drunk and having a good time, and I genuinely do love that even though I can no longer do the same; now that I cant really join in with them like I used to, I dont really know where I want to be anymore. Do I want to be in the club, where my friends are and I am not alone, but because I cant join as much, I am still lonely, bored and being driven half around the bend? Or do I want to be at home, on my own, and so sickeningly lonely that it actually physically hurts now.  I dont have the answer to this yet and if anyone can help I would be grateful.

Copyright by Sami-Jane Harris. 2010. All rights reserved